Sunday, May 26, 2013


On my way to the Newport Beach Temple last Saturday morning I was listening to a Memories album produced by Reader’s Digest. The song written by Pete Seeger in the early 1960’s and performed by the Kingston Trio was playing. There were other golden oldies which played as I finished my drive, but my thoughts were stuck on this dramatic folk song.

Where have all the flowers gone? Long time passing. Where have all the flowers gone? Long time ago. Where have all the flowers gone? Young girls picked them, ev'ry one. When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone? Long time passing. Where have all the young girls gone? Long time ago. Where have all the young girls gone? They are all in uniform. When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young men gone? Long time passing. Where have all the young men gone? Long time ago. Where have all the young men gone? Gone to soldiers ev'ry one. When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone? Long time passing. Where have all the soldiers gone? Long time ago.
Where have all the soldiers gone? Gone to graveyards, ev'ry one. When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone? Long time passing. Where have all the graveyards gone? Long time ago. Where have all the graveyards gone? Covered in flowers, ev'ry one. When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?

Where have all the flowers gone? Oooh oooh. Where have all the flowers gone? Long time ago.
Where have all the flowers gone? Young girls picked them ev'ry one. When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?

By the time I reached the doors of the Temple I had mentally inventoried the nations of the globe and had pretty much covered the world in red. I was struck with the reality that during my life the tragedies of war and conflict had been poured out upon all of Heavenly Father’s children. None had escaped viewing the brutal deaths of loved ones and fellow citizens.

In my mind I had made a list of all the causes of the tragedy which had been inflicted upon the inhabitants of the world through the ages. Desire for power – lust for wealth – hatred – prejudices – misrepresentations of religious purposes – misguided understanding of one’s importance - etc.

There was no doubt that we were caught in the vicious cycle of going from collecting flowers to collecting flowers. In clarity, the truth that ‘we have never learned’ blazed in my brain. I also realized the commission the Lord gave to the church through the Prophet Joseph Smith, to proclaim peace and denounce war, was falling far short of being fulfilled. (Doctrine and Covenants 98:16, 17 and Doctrine and Covenants 105:38-40)

As I prepared to perform my sealing duties I realized I needed to have a different frame of mind if I was going to enjoy the spiritual awakenings which often attend the performance of these ordinances. I decided to concentrate on the people who were performing the ordinances and also those for whom the ordinances were being performed.

I soon realized that hearts were being turned between the living towards those who had passed on and were awaiting the performance of those ordinances on their behalf, but I also felt the feelings of the hearts of those present in the room being turned toward one another.

I mentally started taking note of the nations which were represented in the work being performed during that hour in that wondrous building. My mind flew across the continents as I ticked off North and South America, Europe, Africa, Australia, the isles of the sea. We were all there united and of one heart, doing our part for our brothers and sisters who likewise came from places nearby and far away.

As I inventoried the variety of beautiful faces and imagined the faces of those for whom the work was being performed a new list of why we were there uniting our hearts, filled my soul. Love of brothers and sisters – absence of prejudices – blindness to pigmentation of skin – no political contentions – social status’ made mute – etc.
In one short hour the hearts of hundreds of the sons and daughters of Heavenly Parents had become knit in an eternally significant way.

Even though my sampling was too small to be statistically significant, the thought quickly came into my mind that this short couple of hours of my life was being duplicated 8-14 hours each day, five days a week, 48 weeks a year in 145 Temples scattered around the world. The multiplying of the numbers made me realize that these gatherings could not in any way be considered insignificant.

The concept of proclaiming peace took on a new and expanded meaning and I realized that we were indeed working at fulfilling the commission to unite the children of God, which the Lord had placed upon us in this Latter Day preparatory period.

May we ever learn! May we ever learn!

Sunday, May 19, 2013


If you ever find yourself wandering amid the headstones in the Minden, Nevada cemetery you might just happen across one bearing the name of:

Pam Cantrell

Born May 31st 1949

Passing March 19th 1977

I suspect there will be few who will ever know more than this about the life of this person who witnessed a scant 27 winters pass into spring. Pam spent her first 15 years in Marchfield, Missouri. I can't add to your knowledge of those years other than to say that at a very early age, childhood diabetes started to ravage Pam’s body, leaving her with a life where she had few days of knowing what good health might feel like, and blind.

I first came to know Pam while she was attending the University of Nevada during the years I was teaching at the LDS Institute of Religion in Reno, Nevada. She was very alive and vibrant as she scurried from one appointment to another following the tapping red tipped collapsible cane which was her constant companion.

Pam’s typical day would include attending classes in her chosen field of Music History and listening to tapes. Students at the Institute would read her text books and record them on tapes. Pam would then spend her afternoons and evenings listening to those tapes and the lectures she had recorded. It was always wonderful to see one list of volunteer readers full and another list being filled out with names of those who wanted to read for Pam.

Having Pam be part of my life gave me some insights which I might have learned in other ways and from other people, but I am glad she was there to help bring them into my life.

First, love cast upon the waters will always return.

Among other successes during her short life, Pam managed to spread her love by serving two years as a full time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, teaching at the Services for the Blind, fulfilling church callings and visiting hospitals.

The Friday before her passing, as she was enduring her last days of mortality and while her own suffering was intensifying, Pam visited her grandmother to discuss a comforting hymn and then fixed a meal to take to a family who was without funds or food.

Because she loved so freely she was also able to be loved freely by others who constantly included her in their lives.

Second, what a great shame it is to be able to read and not to do so.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that the hours spent by Pam listening to the tapes of her lectures and texts resulted in her being a straight ‘A’ student. Sometime I would just stand and watch as she would stop the tape, ponder upon what she had just heard, play the section again to make sure she understood or go on knowing that this bit of knowledge was now hers. It was when I watched her doing this listening, pondering and re-listening exercise, while reading the scriptures that I first started to understand what it meant to search the scriptures.

Following her example, there were more than one of her peers who improved their grade averages during those years.

Third, there are many beauties to see which they who have eyes will never enjoy.

Even though Pam was not born blind and she had the references of her youth in her mind’s eye, I don't think there will be a lot of surprises when light restores the sights of her darkened days. She was constantly aware of those near her. She knew them by their footsteps, she knew them by their odors and she knew them by their laughter. She knew whether the days were cloudy or sunny, when the rain and snow were approaching. She knew when she was surrounded by pines or passing a rose bush. She was aware!

How sad it is that so many of us bump amid each other hardly recognizing the existence of one another. How sad it is that so many of us complain when the temperatures rise and with echoing complaints when its falls. How sad that so many of us only seem to recognize the unpleasant smells and miss nature’s gallery of perfumes.

Fourth, spiritual insights are whispered to the soul.

There were many times during the fifty plus years I was privileged to stand in front of students when I was aware that it was I, not they who was the student.

Although Pam wasn’t the first or the last to teach me from the student’s chairs, she is one whose image will frequent my mind when I think of this marvelous role reversal that teachers are privileged to enjoy. The insights often come in the form of questions which bear light. What do you think of ‘this way’ of looking at repentance? Would adding this ‘practice’ to our prayers make them more meaningful? Would our faith be increased if we did ‘this?’ The insights which had been whispered to her soul, stirred my spirit and they were outpoured.

I know that most of us as we pass through life, securely standing as if we were at the podium, would do well to be still and listen to what might be being whispered.

As I look at the space between the dates of Pam’s birth and her passing I am left with impressions of 27 winters passing into spring well spent. In a very wonderful way she found a way to make those years part of her exciting eternal experience.

But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whosoever is found possessed of it at the last day it shall be well with him.

Wherefore my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are the true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure.
(Moroni 7:47, 48)


Sunday, May 12, 2013


As we travel on roads at speeds once thought impossible and connect with cities in hours which once took months, the world seemingly has become smaller. With all the space narrowing blessings which come from the miraculous gifts we all share, we also realize that we have become a much more transient society where families often find themselves scattered over continents and around the globe. We are grateful for the gifts of communication which have blessed us with the ability of instant and continuous contact across the miles which separate us. Once we could only send our thoughts by electrical dots and dashes, then our voices were transmitted over wires, we have now become wireless and in ways Dick Tracy only dreamed about we Skype with one another through cyber space.

With all of these wonderful blessings which diminish our separations and give us some comfort on those special days identified on calendars throughout our homes, they will never replace the contact comfortableness which comes with the hugs of personal greetings. Even with all the wonders which help us stay connected, until we catch up with the dreamers of Star Trek and can instantaneously be transmitted from here to there, the distances of our transient society will leave many with unfulfilled feelings on special days.

Mary Dow Brine expressed what I am attempting to say in a poem entitled ‘Somebody’s Mother.’

The woman was old and ragged and gray
And bent with the chill of the winter's day.
The street was wet with the recent snow,
And the woman's feet were aged and slow.

She stood at the crossing and waited long
Alone, uncared for, amid the throng
Of human beings who passed her by,
Nor heeded the glance of her anxious eye.

Down the street with laughter and shout.
Glad in the freedom of "school let out,"
Came the boys like a flock of sheep,
Hailing the snow piled white and deep.

Past the woman so old and gray
Hastened the children on their way,
Nor offered a helping hand to her,
So meek, so timid, afraid to stir,
Lest the carriage wheels or the horses' feet
Should crowd her down in the slippery street.

At last came one of the merry troop,
The gayest laddie of all the group;
He paused beside her and whispered low,
"I'll help you across if you wish to go."

Her aged hand on his strong young arm
She placed, and so, without hurt or harm,
He guided her trembling feet along,
Proud that his own were firm and strong.

Then back again to his friends he went,
His young heart happy and well content.
"She's somebody's mother, boys, you know,
For all she's aged and poor and slow;

"And I hope some fellow will lend a hand
To help my mother, you understand,
If ever she's poor and old and gray,
When her own dear boy is far away."

And "somebody's mother" bowed low her head
In her home that night, and the prayer she said
Was, "God be kind to the noble boy
Who is somebody's son and pride and joy."

Through the words the Savior spoke to John from the cross, we are reminded of an important principle, “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary, the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother and the disciple standing by, whom He loved, He saith unto his mother, women behold thy son. Then he saith unto His disciple, behold thy mother. And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.” (John 19:25-27)

Unlike John our commitment to Somebody’s Mother will not be so demanding. It may only be a hand placed gently on a mother’s shoulder or a momentary loving embrace, but Somebody’s Mother, separated from loved ones on this special day, will have her life enriched because of somebody’s son or daughter who added her welfare to their busy schedule. Was not the Savior trying to teach us about the universal responsibility we have to love one another, which transcends immediate blood lines and connects us all into Heavenly Father’s eternal family.

These acts of kindness will be measured in nano seconds on the eternal scale, but Somebody’s Mother, separated from her own, will have her life made brighter because someone momentarily practiced the eternal principle of universal love.

Sunday, May 5, 2013


There was a time during my teaching days when object lessons were extremely popular. It came to the point that if a class was held without an object lesson as part of the day’s activity, you felt like something was missing.

One of the object lessons I remember was taking an egg which had had the ends of the shell pricked with a pin and the stuff we eat blown out. The shell was left intact and completely hollow. After a lot of histrionics, in front of the class, a volunteer was requested to have the egg busted upon their head. If no volunteer came forth an election was held. The volunteer/elected class member was always relieved when only a few shell fragments were needed to be brushed out of their hair and they were not left with a gooey egg shampoo. The lesson to be learned from the object was that it is what inside which makes the difference.

The French learned this lesson early in the Second World War when the Germans easily breached their impenetrable Maginot Line and found that France’s center was very vulnerable and easily conquered.

Bruce R. McConkie was fond of calling what is commonly named the parable of the SOWER from the Savior’s teachings, the parable of the SOILS. He pointed out that the sower would cast his seed upon all kinds of soils, but what was yielded was dependent upon the type of soil it landed upon.

During our lives we will have many types of seeds thrown at us some will be good and some will be bad. What effect they have upon us will be determined by which seeds we allow to take root. Ultimately, it is what we have in our center which determines what we control in our lives and what we allow others to control.

I would like to suggest some possible keys to becoming the type of soil where good seeds will flourish and bad seeds will be cast out.


Develop preemptive problem solving abilities by spending some of your pondering time imagining problematic situations and developing possible solutions which can be stored in your memory and called upon when the problem arises in real time.
Imagine what you wish to become and start acting as if you are already that person.
Pick a good model of who you wish to become and start patterning your thoughts, words and actions after that model.


Stop letting the negative comments of others determine who you are, what you are becoming and how you feel about yourself.
Stop letting the flattering comments of others determine who you are, what you are becoming and how you feel about yourself.
Stop letting other people’s opinions determine friendships.
Stop letting your outward shell determine the worth of self.
Stop letting the outward shell determine the worth of others.


There is no relationship between having failed at something and the success of future attempts in the same arena. Remember, Babe Ruth never let leading the league in strikeouts determine whether his next at bat would yield a home run.
More growth comes from remembering the actions which yielded success than even brief thoughts about a failed attempt. As a golfer I know that harboring thoughts about a missed shot will have negative consequences on future attempts, while thinking about the shot which was nailed increases the chance of successful future attempts.
Concentrating on the task at hand brings about better and faster results than drifting in and out of other problems while trying to complete the one in front of you.


We were all created to be successful. We all have a success mechanism built into our beings. Listen to it and let it work for you. Trust in the truth that Heavenly Father doesn't create junk.
Time spent worrying about failure is fruitless.
Time spent developing success is fruitful.
We can diminish or increase the usefulness of our success mechanism by our attitude.

Somewhere back in time, probably when object lessons were all in vogue, I came across a story whose author has been lost into that maze where most of our words go. The story meant much to me then and more to me now, so I share with you a brief summary of the tale and some of the concluding words.

The tale speaks of a man whose choices had led him to sleeping in the gutter and eating the dregs from garbage cans. He was met by a rich man who would not give him silver nor gold, but only the words which were the key to his success. “Go and find ‘THAT SOMETHNG’ and when you‘ve found it come to me.” Since I remember most stories which make me cry happy this one obviously leads to a great change in the man who once slept in gutters. I will share with you some of the concluding words of the story, as they have great relevance to my Thought for this week.

“It is the power of the inner man, the fuel of the soul machine. It is the one thing necessary. We are all born much alike…
And then we begin to live, animals all. Until we wake ‘THAT SOMETHING’ of the soul, we live as horses live. We bear on our muscle those that have found ‘THAT SOMETHING!’ And we bear them on up the mountain, to take their places among the masters of men.

‘THAT SOMETHING’ lies dormant in every soul until aroused. With many it sleeps until the last great sleep. Sometimes it does not wake until man stands tottering on the border of the grave. Sometimes it is found by the child playing by it’s mother’s knee. Some have sneered, and called it luck. Luck is but the fleeting smile of Fortune.


A man’s success depends alone on ‘THAT SOMETHING.’ ‘THAT SOMETHING’ of his soul. Abraham Lincoln found it when a lad. It warmed the cold floor on which he lay and studied. It added light to the flickering glow of the wood fire that he might see to read. It spurred him on, and on, and on. It made the man! It can make YOU!

If you will but wake ‘THAT SOMETHING’ within your soul that now lies asleep – if you can do this…”

Little do I believe that man’s worth or success is measured by his accumulated mountain of minutia or the number of subjects beneath his scepter, but they will be deemed successful who daily strive to become a better ME. It demands a regular convincing self-talk about the majesty of souls including the worth of my own.